“The exemplary modern artist is a broker in madness.”
With these words by Susan Sontag R.A.P. Ferreira closes the description of his latest record Purple Moonlight Pages on Bandcamp. Can the rapper with a thousand names be called an exemplary modern artist under this definition? Milo, Scallops Hotel, Black Orpheus, many are the names that he uses to identify different aspects of his art. I’ve reviewed him when Budding Ornithologists Are Weary Of Tired Analogies came out, back in 2018, and it was a hell of a lo-fi hip hop album. This time he’s surrounded by the men of the Jefferson Park Boys alias Kenny Segal, Mike Parvizi, and Mr. Carmick that look over the production. Let’s see if they make us over-think.
Mr. Ferreira himself welcomes the guests of the show and exposes the reasons for the following songs to the audience in Decorum: “This transmission is addressed to the fence-building nihilists“. He is a poet releasing verses to heal you, rhythm and poetry to give a pulse to the soul. The super groovy bass in Greens shakes hands with our ears while a huge kick drum pushes the beat deep into the mind. The blues fades away, there’s no more time for it: It’s the turn of the green to flourish, in all the cities and in all countries. Noncipher is a deconstructed swing that holds and controls samples of street jazz as a puppeteer with the puppets. To get that control you need experience and experience come with the struggle, the definition of the self comes from struggle. In Omens & Totems the poet struggles to find magnificence in life, where magnificence is not wealth but the essence of enjoying the little things. It’s a simple song with great introspective power reinforced by the Phrygian synth at the beginning. Like hearing a distant tune in the night, you find the meaning of it all by closing your eyes and thinking about what you got, whatever it is, it’s magnificent. And magnificent is the glass melody that accompanies the lyrics of U.D.I.G. (United Defenders of International Goodwill), rich in rhythm and in pitch shifting, and then an epic chorus opens up with piano and bass followed by an orchestral string section. Digging the mountain of the struggle may be dirt but it’s an epic journey. Apart from the epicness, there’s still everyday routine to get done, managing the little things like the Laundry and growing a family, with all the responsibilities that it takes. The beat is like Stromae on a drunk feel pulse, fragmented and scattered like the towels of the laundry. The eerie atmosphere comes back in Dust Up and in Cycles, a reflection on the journey of the poet and what art means now and what has become in the last decades. Aerial synths in the first one and clean guitars in the second, the artist is described as being a freelance explorer of spiritual dangers. A statement proclaiming the pros and cons of delivering messages through eccentric forms. After the “mariachi” break of Absolutes and the criticism about compromise in art in No Starving Artists come the two singles Leaving Hell and Doldrums. The club atmosphere of the first one finds its reason in the horns and trumpets bringing the message of poetry as an escape from reality, just like the cartoony Ferreira in the video that takes a trumpet-shuttle to reach the deeps of the cosmo. The second one has three keywords repeating the rhyme, doldrums, humdrum and conundrum, describing a routine that affects everyone, as a perpetual cycle of life destined to repeat over and over with no clear reason. But the rapper accepts the mystery and creates verses on the topic on a perfectly arranged chord progression looping through all the song, solidifying the concept. An Idea Is A Work Of Art in the minds of R.A.P. Ferreira and the guest Mike Ladd, rhythm and poetry are the weapons to use on a quest to get open and free, a dungeon where to loot wisdom at the sound of carousel and horns. The exploration in search of the knowledge is Mythical and leads to a mid-tempo tune with a circus-like refrain, sampled trumpets, and drum rolls. Pinball takes the trumpet melody of Mythical through a violin, the tempo is slowed further, the history repeats and with a laugh, we testify the happening serenely, we’ve just got middle aged all of a sudden. Wandering through all this poetry a hint from the past comes out, the harmony horns in the choruses of Golden Sardine remind the horn crescendos in Stet, the first single of the above-mentioned previous album. This time they push the thoughts from the underground and escalate the sky. Ro Talk seems to be a transformation of “raw talk”. No more compromise, the flow of the thoughts invests the listener like a gigantic wave breaking on the shores of a singer-songwriter kind of backing track, bass and clean guitar with some strings. Since your freedom of expression is limited by social and political surveillance, live your life following pure will at every moment. The last chapter is Masterplan. Mr. Ferreira forgets everything and sings of a time and place ancient as the world, where everyone knew their worth, and it’s atmospheric sixties’ prog all of a sudden. Minimal arrangements on a pair of chords, double-tracked vocals and a savage flute that tries to sound clean but it’s wild and free in the spirit. The rapper accepts the mystery of it all, the masterplan, and makes the audience “feel” the concept.
R.A.P. Ferreira throws thoughts at the listener at the speed of light and he does it in a pleasantly weird way. The past ten years have been the most saturated in terms of underground rap and Rory has a unique voice, a unique soul and a unique way to deliver the message in a colorful painting of jazz rap. Long live the legacy of the Scallops Hotel.
Listened to and written for you by Music Pills
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